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Administration: Office of Environmental Health & Safety

Select Agents and Toxins

Select Agents and Toxins are highly hazardous, biologically-derived toxins and living biological agents (viruses and bacteria) capable of causing serious illness and death in humans and animals. Like many hazardous materials, these agents are used in scientific research. They are also prime candidates for misuse in the wrong hands.

The possession, use and transfer of Select Agents and Toxins have been regulated since the mid-1990s, with regulations strengthening under the PATRIOT Act (pdf) after the anthrax attacks of 2001. The Select Agents Program is managed jointly by the Division of Select Agents and Toxins (DSAT) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, part of HHS) and Agriculture Select Agent Services (AgSAS) at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS, part of USDA). A complete list of Select Agents and Toxins can be accessed here.
Select Agents that are live biological agents are safely used and stored in secure Biohazard Level 3 (BL3) facilities only. They are highly unlikely to be encountered outside of research settings without a BL3 facility. Facilities in which this type of Select Agents are used and stored must be registered with the Federal Select Agent Program (FSAP).

Select Agent toxins are not pathogenic but extremely toxic. They do not require a BL3 facility but must treated as any other chemical compound having an extremely low lethal dose. Quantities of Select Agent toxins present above certain thresholds are subject to regulation. Actual presence and usage of Select Agent toxins are unlikely to approach these thresholds; furthermore, most manufacturers of toxins have either discontinued this line of products or sell them in microgram, rather than milligram, amounts. Although these toxins are currently not in use at Lehman College, research may evolve or new research may involve use of these materials. Please contact the Environmental Health & Safety Office (x8988, x8978) for more information on Select Agents.